Sick and Tired?

You say you are Feeling Sick and Tired.  I’m sure you are or are headed in that direction.  I just finished an article about the field of psychoneuroimmunology, which deals with stress and how the body responds to it.  Here in a nutshell is what I think you would want to know.

Emotions such as anxiety, fear, guilt, anger and sadness, weaken the immune system, interfere with healing and can lead to disease.

I’ll never forget the 1987 cover of Newsweek magazine that announced that the immune system was under control of the central nervous system.  This wasn’t exactly news to chiropractors who understood this since 1895.  24 years later I am reading scientific news that further supports the common sense of 1895.  By the way those comments were not in the article I just read nor are a lot of what is about to follow.

There are two major systems involved in this communication between the brain and immune system, the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axsis) and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS).  The importance of that information is questionable for our purposes, but I felt compelled to show you what science can come up with after 116 years.

When we are stressed, a negative message is adopted by our unconscious mind.  Negative judgment of yourself reinforces unwanted behaviors.  When we focus on something that we don’t want our subconscious mind attracts it to us.  Implementing this idea is simple.  Instead of thinking I have to lose weight, it is more advantageous to have thoughts such as, I am healthy and do healthy activities. 

Stress often occurs when we realize there is a gap between how we would like our life to be and how it actually is.  You may wonder why I’m now segueing off to genetics, but it will make sense.

I was taught in college that our genes determined our potential and that they were carved in stone.  You were going to be a product of your genes and there was nothing you could do about it.  It is now understood to be quite different.  It would be more accurate to look at it like this; genes load the gun, the environment pulls the trigger. 

Cells do respond to the internal environment of our thoughts as well as the pollution in our external environment.  Genetics are controlled by perception of our environment not genes.  There is a subtle difference in that previous sentence between genetics and genes.  Genes do not control who you are and have less importance than once thought concerning biological expression.  It has been found that genes can adapt to your beliefs and identities.  Genes do not turn themselves on and off, but rather change to adapt to their environment.

Hence, a little science to support going to church and hearing a positive story and if you know me you know I am not recommending church, but rather positive thinking.  However, there is no denying people feel better after attending a motivational sermon especially one with a lot of singing and dancing.  This can be explained by physiology as opposed to theology.

Some of the science used to back the above claims is based on DNA methylation.  No I am not going to go any deeper into organic chemistry, but what this means is rather simple.  Aging involves a general tendency where less methylation occurs.  Over methylation is seen in cancer cells.  Diet and nutrition provide methyl groups for DNA. 

Lately, folate has been on the news because it is a vital nutrient involved in methylation of DNA.  Mammals cannot synthesize folate or methionine and a diet low in these nutrients affects our DNA as well as all the other hundreds of nutrients that have not been completely studied.  Additionally, many toxic agents in our environment such as arsenic and cadmium damage the methylation process.

In a nutshell, our internal and external environments greatly affect our health.  Our genes deal us a certain hand in life.  It’s up to us to play those cards well.  I guess a good place to start with this, is to quit calling yourself stupid.  It can make you sick.  Do what I do, let someone else call you that.  Kidding, get rid of those people.  Although, you might find you have few friends left.

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